Far too many devotional books are sleep-inducing with their familiar pieties and uninspired homilies. Not so with this imaginative Christian work by Joyce Rupp, a member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community. She is well known for her ministries as a writer, spiritual "midwife," and retreat leader.
Rupp invites us to "the dance of life that God desires for us." Her prayers, poetry, guided imagery, and scripture selections show her to be a lover of God who wants to share her excitement about spiritual growth. This paperback was originally released in 1992, and this revised edition features twelve new guided meditations. The rich and life-affirming material on these pages will appeal to slow dancers who like deep pondering and to fast dancers who enjoy dazzling high energy reads. Here are the chapter headings for the year:
• January The Road of Life
• February Dry Bones
• March Leaning on God
• April Watered Gardens
• May A Rushing Wind
• June Seeking and Finding
• July The Playground for God
• August Hearts on Fire
• September Instruments of God
• October The Falling Leaves
• November Faithful Love
• December Homecoming
Rupp says of prayer:
"We must also let go of thinking that we have to have something to show for our efforts, for our time spent dancing with God. Just choosing to be with God is valuable. We cannot control what will happen. We must simply trust this Wise Companion with our lives, trust that God will never harm us or lead us anywhere but into greater harmony and integrity. Prayer is not about 'feeling good.' Rather, it is about learning the dance of the Holy One, which is the dance of truth and wholeness."
There are so many inspiring prayers and meditations in this wonderful paperback! Here are a few that caught our fancy and made their way into our hearts:
• A New Year's Prayer
• A New Year's Blessing
• The Energies of the Spirit of God
• A Prayer of Wonder
• A Candle Prayer to Celebrate the Fire of God in Our Hearts
• A Prayer for Autumn Days
• A Prayer of Gratitude.
Be sure to check out Rupp's list of passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures about the road as an image of the spiritual journey. In conclusion, here is a teaching story that speaks poignantly about the Spirit and compassion:
"I can forget or take for granted the smaller breezes if I am not deliberately attentive to them. It is easy to dismiss these moments of transformation, either because I am too busy or because I do not recognize the activity of the Divine. Now I keep a daily journal where I record my experiences of the rushing wind.
"For example, I have a photo of a homeless woman to remind me of an unexpected moment when the Spirit of God visited me. One day I went to the mailbox and among the envelopes was a magazine. I sat down to read my correspondence but I felt drawn to the cover of the magazine, a photo of a homeless woman named Esther. I gazed at her wrinkled face, the open sore on her nose, and the matted stocking cap on her head. But what most caught my attention was the vibrant light in her deep blue eyes. I sat for a long time looking at Esther. As I did so, a gush of tears came. They were tears of compassion for the tremendous pain of the homeless and the resilience that shone in the woman's eyes. They were also tears of conversion as I realized how little I had really done to change the situation of those who need shelter. At that moment the rushing wind was urging me to action, calling me to become more aware of and directly involved with the poor."